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Cavan Accordion Musicians excel at18th Annual Castletown Accordion Festival

Over 75 accordion musicians, including a number of young musicians from County Cavan, took part in the 18th annual Castletown Accordion Festival which was held on Saturday 20th November in a crowded Mullagh Hall.   With 16 categories to be adjudicated, the competitions started at 10.30a.m. and continued throughout the day finishing with the presentation of prizes at 6.30p.m.  The categories heard in the morning included Starter Solo for under 10’s, Elementary, Primary, Preparatory, Junior, Higher Junior, Under 9, Under 11 and under 13 solos.  The adjudicator then heard from a number of Ensemble Groups before breaking for a well-earned lunch.  After lunch the Under 16, Intermediate, Adult and Open Solo performances were enjoyed by the audience and to finish off the competitions five orchestras from Castletown Accordion Orchestra that include musicians from Cavan and Meath were judged on their musical technique by the adjudicator Ms Marta Siermantowska, a polish accordion teacher and musician, who was brought in especially to judge all 16 categories and musical performances.  From starter solo to senior orchestra the musicians ranged in age from 5 years old to adult and came from Cavan, Meath, Louth  and Dublin.    

Ms Marta Siermantowska who adjudicated the competitions has played with the National Symphony and RTE Concert Orchestras on several occasions as well as performing at the National concert Hall, the Helix and Farmleigh.  In her closing remarks after the competitions she said that she was very impressed at the level of competition had observed a number of musicians exhibiting huge musical skill and potential.

Yvonne Chilton of Virginia based Chilton School of Music and music teacher with the Castletown Accordion Orchstra organised the Accordion Festival said “This, our 18th Annual Accordion Festival, was a huge success.  I have witnessed the numbers taking part grow each year since our first festival in 1993 and I am delighted to say that the standard of competition also improves year-on-year.  The opportunities being part of the Castletown Accordion Orchestras affords young musicians is tremendous.  We have students ranging in age from 6 years old to adult and currently boast five accordion orchestras. We have been very successful in competing in All Ireland, European and World Championships over the past number of years.   Lessons are given each Friday night in Nobber and new members are always welcome”. She said.      

Ukranian Ambassador attends Irish Accordion Association’s Festival in Navan.























Over 200 Accordion Musicians from France, England, Scotland, the Ukraine and Ireland were in Navan on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th April to take part in the All-Ireland Accordion Festival.  As well as accordion competitions which took place over two days, the highlight of the weekend was a gala concert on the Saturday evening which was attended by over 400 people including the Ukranian Ambassador to Ireland and Paddy Kavanagh, one of the founding members of the Irish Accordion Association.   The line up for this very successful concert included the Meath Harp Ensemble, Evin Kelly, Igor Zavadsky, A Reunion Orchestra, Ian Watson & Julie North and finally our adjudicator Renzo Ruggieri. The “Reunion Orchestra” consisted of ex-members of Senior Orchestras who had taken part in the All-Ireland over the last 40 years.   Their conductor was Dr. Patricia Kavanagh, daughter of Paddy Kavanagh and currently accordion and piano teacher in the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin.


As part of the festival accordion competitions were held for all age groups from 4years old to adult in a number of categories including solo, duet, ensemble and orchestras.  A prize giving ceremony was held on Saturday and Sunday where winners were presented with trophies, medals and certificates. Embracing new technology the Irish Accordion Association has put a full set of results of this international Accordion Festival on the Irish Accordion Association Facebook page.


According to John Chilton, Chairman of the Irish Accordion Association, “This open festival was held to mark the 40th anniversary of the All-Ireland Accordion Festival.  We had many entries from abroad including Gary Blair and his orchestra from Scotland, Ian Watson with the Morley College Orchestra from London, together with entries from France and the Ukraine and Northern Ireland - Clyde Johnston and his Orchestra” 


The festival was held in the Newgrange Hotel in Navan over a weekend and because of the huge entry to the accordion competitions, the organisers had started them very early on the Saturday morning.  Renowned accordion musicians Renzo Ruggieri from Italy, Ian Watson and Julie North from London were flown in to adjudicate the competitions.      On the Sunday evening moster Ceile was held for all those who travelled for the accordion festival with the music provided by fine musicians from Tipperary and Limerick and as a special treat Gary Blair and Andrew Kinnear performed a Scottish Set. 


John Chilton continued:  “The format we developed for this years Irish Accordion Association festival of competitions, a concert and ceile  proved to be a very popular, and it looks like continuing as we have had a lot of  enquiries from abroad already re next year’s event.  We would like to thank everyone who attended and supported this event, particularly the teachers and students and not forgetting their chauffeurs – the parents”

Pictured is the “Reunion Orchestra” who received a standing ovation for their performance at a Gala Concert which was part of the Irish Accordion Association’s 40th anniversary which was held in Navan recently. The orchestra was conducted by Dr. Patricia Kavanagh, (Standing middle front in black) daughter of Paddy Kavanagh and currently accordion and piano teacher in the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin. The orchestra was made up of ex-members of senior orchestras who had taken part in the All-Ireland over the last 40 years. Many members are from five local Meath orchestras of Castletown, K & S, Oristown, Paddy Kavanagh & Sean Kearneys orchestras They had been rehearsing for six months prior to the gala concert to and performed four pieces on the night.

Meath Musicians take 17 First Prizes at The 39th All Ireland Accordion Championships.

Accordion players from all over Ireland competed in the 39th All Ireland Open Accordion Championships which took place in Virginia Co. Cavan on the weekend of the 27th & 28th March.  The Meath based Castletown Accordion Orchestra’s musicians took an overwhelming 17 first places in a number of categories including solos, duets, ensembles and orchestras.  This is the first time in its 39 years that this competition has been held in Co. Cavan.

Mr. Neil Varley, a Senior Producer with the BBC Concert Orchestra was flown in to adjudicate the competition. A renowned musician, he graduated with B. Mus Hons (Lond), an LRAM and a Dip. Ram in accordion from the Royal Academy of Music, London.   

Ranging in age from 6 years old to adult, the Castletown Accordion Orchestra was formed in 1981 and was originally a marching band.    They have four orchestras, Primary, Junior, Intermediate and Senior Orchestras and have been very successful in competing in All Ireland, European and World Championships over the past number of years.  On May 12th three of the Castletown Accordion Orchestras will travel to Innsbruck Austria to take part in the World Accordion Championships and we wish them every success.  



Orchestra Category

1st place:          Castletown Senior Orchestra

                        Castletown Intermediate Orchestra

                        Castletown Junior Orchestra

                        Castletown Primary Orchestra


Ensemble Category

1st place:          Castletown Primary Ensemble

                        Castletown Preparatory Ensemble

                        Castletown Intermediate Ensemble


2nd & 3rd:           Castletown Junior Ensembles A & B


Duets Category

1st:                    Intermediate Duet:  Holly Chilton ( Lisduff,Virginia) & Samantha Sheridan (Castletown)

                        Preparatory Duet:  Darren Briody (Mullagh) & Michael McKeon-Boyle (Lisduff, Virginia)

2nd                    Primary Duet:  Clare Curley (Moynalty) & Kate Farrelly - Kingscourt


Solo Categories


Elementary Solo:   

Gold Medals:    Sarah McKenna (Mullagh) , Aisling Havem, (Navan)

Bronze Medal:  Niamh Markey  (Castletown)


Primary Solo:                      

3rd Place:          Kate Farrelly (Kingscourt)

Medals:            Ciaran McKenna (Mullagh) Clare Curley (Moynalty)  Rachel McKeon (Kingscourt)


Primary Solo Own Choice: 

1st: Place -  Kate Farrelly (Kingscourt),

Medals:      Clare Curley, (  Moynalty )   Rachel McKeon, ( Kingscourt) Ciaran McKenna (Mullagh)  Cian Wilson &  Jordan Curtis both from Kingscourt


Preparatory Solo:  

3rd Place:  Michael McKeon-Boyle (Lisduff, Virginia, Co Cavan),

Medals - Darren Briody (Mullagh)  and Evan Eiffe ( Ratoath)


Preparatory Solo Own Choice: 

1st Place:             Michael McKeon-Boyle, (Lisduff, Virginia)

2nd Place:            Darren Briody (Mullagh)

Medals                Nadine Richardson & Aaron Richardson ( Drumconrath)and Evan Eiffe (Ratoath)


Under 9 Solo:          

1st Place           Darren Briody, (Mullagh)

2nd Place          Michael McKeon Boyle. (Lisduff, Virginia)

Medals             Cian Wilson (Kingscourt), Evan Eiffe (Ratoath)


Under 11 Solo:          

3rd Place:          Clare Curley ( Moynalty )


Junior Solo:

2nd  Place          Eoin Carolan, (  Mullagh

3rd Place           Kate McKenna (Mullagh)


Junior Solo Own Choice: 

1st Place:          Eoin Carolan (Mullagh)


Higher Junior Solo:

1st Place           Ellen Farrelly, (Kingscourt)

3rd Place           Bronagh Carolan (Kingscourt)

Medals:            Clare Bradley (  Nobber  )   and Brian Eiffe (Ratoath)


Under 13 Solo:        

1st Place:          Holly Chilton, (Lisduff, Virginia)    

3rd Place:          Samantha Sheridan. (Castletown)


Under 16 Solo:        

3rd Place:          Shannon Briody. (Mullagh)


Intermediate Solo: 

1st Place:           Holly Chilton (Lisduff Virginia)

 2nd Place:         Shannon Briody.(Mullagh)


Open Solo:   3rd Aine McLoughlin  ( Mullagh )

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